Area students participate in SMEC Career Day, workers aim to inspire them

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(ABC 6 NEWS) – In Austin, Friday is career day for many kids in our area, and there was a career fair hosted by the Southern Minnesota Education Consortium.

And for the kids who were there, this is the chance to get hands-on experience to see what they want to do after high school.

"There’s a lot of opportunities out there when I grow up for a job, and honestly, I think I want to become a truck driver," sixth-grader at SMEC Education, Colin Finley said.

Colin’s got a dream, he could even see it firsthand. There were plenty of trucks.

Around 200 students got to see what interests them. The kids may be young, but learning that there are opportunities out there, meant a lot to them.

"It’s very nice for these people to come out here," Finley said.

"We hear a lot about college. College is important at the right time and the right place. But what’s really important is we are desperate for skilled workers, and this is what kids are learning about," Representative Patricia Mueller, (R) Mower County said.

25 businesses were at the event. The pandemic, impacting each and every one of them.

"We’re back to full swing, but none of us, fortunately, none of us were ever away, because they always needed us available to work," Steve Tiegs, utility lineman with Austin Utilities said.

Even throughout all of the struggles the pandemic brought, Steve Tiegs stayed positive. He says he truly loves his job.

Career Expos like this mean something to people like Steve.

"I never had the opportunity to see things like that, and I didn’t really know anything about these careers. If I would have had this, it would have been a great opportunity for me," Tiegs said.

So yes, all of the businesses at the event were hiring. But that’s not the big takeaway from this, it’s that these businesses are looking to inspire the next generation.